Bjorn’s Corner: Aircraft drag reduction, Part 11

By Bjorn Fehrm

January 05, 2018, ©. Leeham Co: In the last Corner we described a dominant drag component affecting the Wright Brothers’ Flyer, Form drag. The many wires and braces on the Flyer created separations and a high Form drag was the result.

At the time, Langley and others thought friction drag could be neglected. Now we describe how it was discovered one couldn’t and how it gradually made its way to the top of the drag contributors.

Figure 1. The Supermarine Spitfire with its elliptical lift distribution wing. Source: Google images.

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Is the Airbus A321LR a better NMA stopgap than the 767-300?

By Bjorn Fehrm

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January 04, 2016, © Leeham Co.: We have discussed if the Boeing 767-300ER could function as a stopgap until an NMA would be available. We then compared it with Boeing’s 787-8 and Airbus’ A330-800 as alternative stopgaps. We didn’t include any single-aisle alternatives at the time, like Airbus’ A321LR or Boeing’s 737 MAX 10.

These aircraft have limitations in passenger capacity and range compared with the 767. The least compromised aircraft in an NMA role is the A321LR, which comes within 1,500nm of the range of the 767-300ER.  We, therefore, use it as our single-aisle alternative when we look at further stopgaps until an NMA arrives in 7-10 years.

  • The A321LR has 30% less passenger capacity than the 767-300ER when configured with comparable cabin standards.
  • It also has 1,500nm less range than the 767-300ER.
  • The operating costs on a trip and seat-mile basis are considerably lower, however.
  • If the majority of planned routes are within the capability of the A321LR and other aircraft, with longer range, could complement it on the longest routes, it is a more economical alternative to a new 767, both on a Cash Operating Cost basis and when including capital costs.
  • This assumes increased route frequency can compensate the higher capacity of the 767.

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NMA market sector is small, Airbus’ Leahy says

This is a continuing series of articles derived from LNC’s “retirement” interview with John Leahy, COO-Customers of Airbus. Leahy retires this month.

Jan. 3, 2018, © Leeham Co.: This is the year many expect Boeing to decide whether to launch the New Midmarket Aircraft, also known as NMA or unofficially, the

John Leahy, COO-Customers of Airbus. Photo via Google images.

797, to serve the Middle of the Market.

The MOM sector is broadly defined as above the Boeing 737/Airbus A321 and below the Boeing 787/Airbus A330-200/800.

Others, including LNC define the market more broadly.

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United Aircraft’s and COMAC’s eventful year

By Bjorn Fehrm

January 03, 2018, ©. Leeham Co: Both United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) and COMAC got their single-aisle airliner projects into flight test during 2017. The MC-21 and C919 had their first flights within less than a month of each other, with the Chinese C919 first at 5th of May, followed by the Irkut MC-21 on the 28th of May.

Superficially the aircraft and projects are similar. Both are 150-220 seat single aisle projects in the mold of Airbus’ A320neo and Boeing’s 737 MAX programs. Looking a bit closer, they are different. One is extending the state of the art in several areas; the other is playing safe.

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Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation’s tough 2017

By Bjorn Fehrm

January 02, 2018, ©. Leeham Co: The past year was difficult for Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation (MAC) and its MRJ regional airliner. Although clear progress was made in the flight-testing of the MRJ, problems were found with the aircraft’s avionics and cabling redundancy.

The result is an avionics and cabling systems redesign which pushes out first delivery from 2018 to 2020. It’s the fifth and the longest delay of the program.

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Top 10 aviation stories of the year on Leeham News

Dec. 31, 2017, © Leeham Co.: Airplane development and the whimsicle made the Top 10 stories on LNC in 2017.

The Top 10 are a statistical listing of the most-viewed posts, not some judgment call on the part of LNC.

Here is the rundown.

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Embraer’s transition years, 2017 and 2018

By Bjorn Fehrm 

December 29, 2017, ©. Leeham Co.: The past year was a transition year for Embraer. Their E-Jet was in its last year before deliveries of the new E2 version begins. The company labels 2018 as an additional transition year, as the ramp-up costs of the first E2 deliveries, the E190-E2, will keep profits down.

Strategically, 2017 has been a tumultuous year for Embraer. Boeing’s complaint to the US Department of Commerce for Bombardier’s CSeries sales to Delta at “dumping prices” drove the competitor aircraft into the hands of Airbus. This unexpected move saw Embraer and Boeing hold merger talks, plans which could be affected by the Brazilian government’s golden share in Embraer.

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Post-hearing briefs in Boeing-Bombardier trade case

Dec. 28, 2017, © Leeham Co.: It’s not often that levity appears in briefing papers in US government trade cases, but Delta Air Lines managed to draw LNC’s chuckle in its post-hearing brief in the Boeing-Bombardier trade case.

Dec. 27 was the deadline for Delta, Bombardier, Boeing and other interested parties to file post-hearing (Dec. 17) briefs and exhibits.

Delta’s introduction was novel to say the least.

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Bombardier’s bittersweet year

Dec. 28, 2017, © Leeham Co.: Two thousand seventeen had to be a bittersweet year for Bombardier.

Despite landing two good, blue-chip orders in 2016—Air Canada and Delta Air Lines—it hadn’t achieved the “commercial momentum” hoped for. At long last, Letters of Intent for 31+30 and 12+12 orders and options were announced this year for the CS100 and CS300 from an Unidentified European carrier and Egyptair respectively. Officials hope to firm these up by the end of this year.

No additional C Series orders were forthcoming for the rest of 2016 and none for 2017 when Boeing stepped up and puked all over the program.

In April, Boeing filed a trade complaint with the US government. Boeing would prevail with the US Department of Commerce, which preliminarily determined to levy a 300% tariff on each C Series imported into the US.

The US International Trade Commission took up the case Dec. 18; a decision is due next month. If ITC finds there was no harm to Boeing, the DOC decision goes away.

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Boeing’s outstanding year

Dec. 27, 2017, © Leeham Co.: Boeing had an outstanding year.

For the first time since 2013, it booked more sales of the 787 than it produced, the so-called book:bill ratio.

The bridge for the 777 Classic to the 777X was all but filled, a point of controversy for the past several years.

Total net orders through November were 633, almost twice that of Airbus through the same period.

This excludes orders announced at the Dubai Air Show which have yet to be booked.

The only lump of coal, coming just before Christmas: Airbus won a major deal from Delta Air Lines for 100 A321neos plus 100 options.

Other events propelled Boeing to an outstanding 2017.

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